Review for Girl On A Wire by Gwenda Bond

Girl On A Wire by Gwenda Bond

TITLE: Girl On A Wire
AUTHOR: Gwenda Bond
PUBLICATION DATE: October 1, 2014
PAGES: 370 pages
FORMAT: ebook
SOURCE: Amazon Prime First
RATING: 4.5 bows

Jules Maroni has been training and performing as a wire walker her entire life. Her father is the world’s best and she desperately wants to follow in his footsteps. When the Maroni’s are offered a spot in the new Cirque American, she knows all her dreams are about to come true. But the Flying Garcia’s, a rival family of trapeze artists have her grandmother worried that old rumors and bad accidents will occur. Jules thinks she is being superstitious until a bad luck charm ends up on her costume and almost makes her fall. Forced to consider the impossible, she confides in the most unlikely ally, Remy Garcia. They are supposed to be mortal enemies, but he is the only one who can help and together they are determined to find out who is behind the pranks. Can they unlock the mystery before it’s too late?

Jules is someone I envy greatly. To have the guts and the courage to step out onto a wire is an awesome thing. I’ve never been scared of heights, but some of the things she does terrifies even me. I’m sure training from an early age does a lot to eradicate some of that fear, but just reading about her stunts gave me chills. I loved reading about how close-knit this family was. We get a lot of dysfunctional families in YA (and especially in NA), but even though we see a bit of tension, Jules’ loves her family and they love her. It was also nice to see a family who knew how to trust their teenager. Mom and Dad don’t try to lock her up in an ivory tower to keep her out of trouble. Instead, they believe her when she claims to be ready for her outdoor walks and they trust her to keep herself out of trouble. Want to know something else I loved? She’s flawed. She’s not perfect. Things happen and she reacts the best she can, but it’s not always the right answer.

Remy is the opposite of a lady’s man. He stays focused on his act and doesn’t mess around. He could easily live up that Romeo image because he has the looks and the body to go with it, but he doesn’t. He plays it off. He’s such a sweet guy and I loved that he didn’t spend every moment chasing after women. He is also dedicated to his family. Things with his mom are rocky, but his siblings are everything to him. He spends a great deal of time with them, practicing their act, trying to get things right. It’s hard to really articulate what I loved about him. He’s so different from your typical YA male that I can’t even make a comparison.

All the other characters were memorable and lovable, especially Dita and Sam. They each bring something new and interesting to the table. Maybe they all fascinated me because I love reading about circuses and the people who make them come to life, but either way, I loved them all. I just think circuses are so interesting. These people work and sweat and work on their craft when their craft is some crazy feat of strength or endurance or balance. The amount of practice and training that goes into wire walking or trapeze or animal training is so extensive that I cannot even begin to fathom it. Remy spends his nights in the big tent trying and trying to make a quad happen. Several hours every single night, on top of his daily practices with his siblings. That kind of determination just astounds me.

Plot-wise, this gets even more kudos from me because I didn’t see the bad guy coming. I had it pegged as someone completely different. It makes complete sense, once it’s all revealed, so maybe I should have seen it coming. The whole mystery unfolds beautifully. Bond manages to balance the perfect amount of mystery and romance in this magical story.

There was only really one issue. There is a death, a very depressing death. From a logical stand-point, I understand the death. I know it was necessary. I completely get that it was the only way to push the story in the direction it needed to go and to truly get Jules to believe in magic. I get that, but that doesn’t make me any less sad. That doesn’t make my tears any less real. On that front, the death accomplished it’s job to make me feel beautifully because I did and I do and even writing this now, I’m tearing up. It’s such a tragic one and it effects so many people and…just damn. Considering I gave Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep a one star rating due to an animal death (a bit extreme, but it really really upset me), knocking off half a star for this traumatic death isn’t that bad. I still kinda feel bad, but I try to be as honest as possible.

Besides the death, I loved everything about this. I love the setting, I love the characters, I love the mysterious plot, I love the lure, and I especially love the cover. It’s completely perfect for this book. It’s hard to find a good circus tale. I feel like everyone is fascinated by them, but few authors broach the subject. I don’t know why that is exactly, but I know I have only read a handful of novels on the subject and they have all been spectacular. This goes right up there with Water For Elephants for me, maybe even a notch higher. Gwenda has a way of writing that captivates you from the moment you start the novel. Her book is fascinating enough that I ignored what I should have been reading all week to finish this. It was entirely worth it. If you are interested in circus lore, getting behind of the eyes of a fearless heroine, or are just looking for something a little different than what you’ve read before, this is the book for you!

5 bowshalf a bow
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Review for That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard

That Time I Joined The Circus by J J Howard

TITLE: That Time I Joined The Circus
AUTHOR: J J Howard
PUBLISHER: Point, an imprint of Scholastic Inc
PAGES: 259 pages
SOURCE: NetGalley
RATING: 5 stars

Lexi’s life has taken a turn for the worst. First she fools around with her best friend, who happens to be dating her other best friend, then her dad dies and leaves her with absolutely nothing. She is told by her dad’s lawyers that they were instructed to send his remaining funds to his ex-wife in the event of his death. The problem is, Lexi hasn’t seen her mother in years. She ran off and joined the circus and that was the last Lexi heard about it. But now, with nowhere else to go, she gets a ticket to Florida, when the circus currently is, and hopes for the best. Life must be laughing at her because there is no sign of her mother when she arrives. At this point, she has nothing, no food, no money, and nowhere to stay. Louie, the circus owner, takes pity on her and gives her a job if she promises to stay with them until the end of the season. Things improve immensely from there until Eli, the aforementioned BFF shows up and throws Lexi’s new life out of whack.

I started this book in hopes to get my next circus fix. Ever since I read Water For Elephants and The Night Circus, I have been searching for something that gives me the magical feeling that only seems to come from circus novels. I wasn’t disappointed. Though this doesn’t quite live up to the gorgeousness that is The Night Circus, it comes close and, really, what more can I ask for? Lexi is smart and self-deprecating and everything I think we are always looking for in a female heroine. When her dad dies, yes she freaks out, but given no other choice, she trudges on like a soldier, never stopping to do the “heroine in distress, needs big strong man to save her” dance. She searches for her mom and when she fails to find her, she takes the job she is offered and doesn’t complain, even when her first task is to shovel shit out of the animal cars. She quickly acclimates to the circus life and, though it is obvious she is depressed and desperately misses her dad, we never see that pity party manifest is a full parade. She tries to keep herself in check and remember that she is lucky to have found a job and a group of people who accept her in these hard times. She has even made friends, Lina and Liska who make things quite a bit easier.

Then there are the love interests. I’ve seen a lot of people saying there are three, but I really only think there are two because I don’t count Jamie. Though he is a bit of a player and he does kiss Lexi once, it’s pretty obvious, to me at least, that his heart lies elsewhere. The two I count are Nick and Eli. Eli, once her best friend in the world, starts to change once he begins dating their mutual friend, Bailey. Then, after the night of fooling around, freaks out and tells her leave and leave she does. When he shows up at the circus, Lexi refuses to even listen to him try to defend himself but he’s determined to have her hear him out and his not leaving until she does. Then there is Nick. He shows up at the circus screaming at Lexi for taking his mom’s job as the show’s psychic. From there, they grow towards friendship and more. The attraction between the two is obvious, but Nick’s life is elsewhere and he’s not sure how long he can stay around.

J. J. Howard’s writing style is perfect for this novel. It’s just the right balance between humor and drama to keep me begging for more. I also love how into music Lexi is. Each chapter starts out with a lyric from a song and though I don’t completely agree with Lexi’s taste, it’s great to read about someone who has a true passion for music that really feels real. The fact that Lexi was also obsessed with Regency romances also endeared me to her quite a bit. I wholly enjoyed every aspect of this novel. My only complaint and it is a tinsy one is that we don’t we get any details about what happened that night between Eli and Lexi. I realize this isn’t a romance novel and I’m not reading it for the smut, but a decent kissing scene to introduce the concept of that night would not have went amiss.

I really think this novel has something forever one. It’s got snarky dialogue, self-deprecating wit, a decent amount of romance, the adventures of a circus, and a story that will make you want to run away and find your own circus. It is a utterly magical tale and I can’t wait to see what else comes from J J Howard.

****Thank you to Point, an imprint of Scholastic Inc for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****

Review for Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

TITLE: Water For Elephants
AUTHOR: Sara Gruen
PUBLISHER: Algonquin Books Of Chapel Hill, a division of Workman Publishing
PAGES: 335 pages
FORMAT: Paperback
SOURCE: Purchased
RATING: 5 stars

I loved this book! I had some doubts going into it, but it is really good. It is told in alternating perspectives from a 93 year old man’s current life and his life when he was younger. It tales his tale of him losing his parents and hopping on a train that turns out to be a circus train. Since he was studying to be a vet at Cornell University, the owner highers him as their personal vet for the menagerie. I honestly love the old man and his perspective. And I think this book has something for everyone. It’s got a bit of romance, adventure, mystery, and deep characters.